“Fields of faith,” so to speak.
“A recent study says that 80 percent of people don’t attend church on a regular basis,” Hughes said. “We want to use the influence of sports to reach those people and to encourage those who are believers to remain faithful.”
Hughes said most students look up to athletes and most athletes look up to coaches, so much of his mission is to work with coaches to help them be spiritual mentors to their players.
“Coaches are some of the most influential leaders in our society,” he said. “They can reach more people in one year than ministers reach in a lifetime. We want to use that influence in every possible way to lead others to Christ.”
FCA even has a special edition of the Bible, titled “The Coaches Bible,” written by and for coaches.
Hughes refers to the FCA program as the “Four C’s of Ministry” — coaches, campus, camps and community.
In addition to working with coaches, he said FCA assists students in forming clubs, known as “huddles,” on the school campus. These ministries are started and led by student athletes and coaches at the middle school, high school and college levels. The goal is to help students grow in faith and encourage their peers to do the same.
“We provide them with all the resources they need to help kids know Christ,” Hughes said. “The best huddle groups can be student led, with a faculty advisor.”
The West Georgia FCA is very active in sports camps to provide training in both athletics and religion.
“We had two sessions of wrestling camps at University of West Georgia this year,” he said. “Students came from all over the southeast to participate in the camps.”
He said a June wrestling camp brought more than 350 athletes and coaches to the UWG campus.
“They received quality wresting training and heard the gospel,” Hughes said. “We had 158 make decisions to follow Christ, some were first time and others were rededications.”
He said a July football camp at UWG attracted more than 1,000 student athletes and coaches, which led to 438 decisions for Christ.
Hughes said he currently has students and coaches active in FCA programs at Central High School and Temple High School and he hopes to help other schools in the region.
He emphasized that the FCA program does not violate the separation of church and state.
“When we go to a school, we’re invited to speak to the team,” he said. “It is not mandatory for the coaches or players to attend any of the functions.”
Hughes said he also hopes to get FCA more involved with the community, including youth and recreation teams, workout facilities and any place where athletes assemble. He noted that FCA is not competing with churches, but seeking to partner with them for leading youth to Christ.
The next FCA public event here will be an October area-wide youth rally, “Fields of Faith.”
“We want to partner with local churches and FCA huddle groups from schools,” he said. “We hope to hold it at the Amp (Carrollton’s downtown amphitheater) and bring in an evangelist and contemporary Christian bands. We hope local student leaders will give testimonies to encourage other kids to follow Christ.”
Hughes comes to FCA after a 30-year teaching and coaching career with Fulton County Schools.
He was a high school social studies teacher; football, basketball and track coach; athletic director; assistant principal and central office administrator, coordinator of student discipline.
“As coordinator of student discipline, I was responsible for student discipline for the Fulton County system of 92,000 students,” he said. “I was the guy who conducted all the discipline tribunal hearings. We had about 700-800 cases each year.”
Hughes said he first heard a calling to the ministry while he was a 10th grade student and he believes that calling first led him to a career in education.
“I really feel God used the last 30 years to prepare me for what’s next, working with FCA,” he said.
Hughes said he filled an FCA position in West Georgia that has been vacant for three years. The last FCA minister, Tim Eason, left for an outdoors type ministry, he added.
The national FCA was founded in 1954 by basketball coach Don McClanen. Charter members of his group included Otto Graham, retired Cleveland Browns quarterback; Carl Erskine, retired Dodgers pitcher; Donn Moomaw, retired Los Angeles Rams linebacker; and Branch Rickey, former Major League baseball executive.
FCA has a staff of 650 nationally and is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. It reaches two million people annually on professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels and is the largest sports ministry in the world. It is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, supported by tax deductible donations.
“It is faith based and relies solely on donations from churches, businesses, organizations and individuals,” Hughes said. “The Gospel is free, but ministry is expensive.”
The FCA vision is, “To see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches”
Its mission is, “To present to athletes and coaches, and all of whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church.”
Hughes said he wants to meet and network with people in the West Georgia area. He can be contacted at 1002 Creek Run Place, Temple, GA 30179; by phone, 770-316-5943; or e-mail, email@example.com.
Additional information on Fellowship of Christian Athletes can be found online at www.fca.org.